District History

Pictures of old and new Heritage House at the Cartwright School District, the first graduating class and the old fashioned stove used to cook meais

In 1884, Cartwright School opened on the corner of 59th Avenue and Thomas in the Phoenix area now known as Maryvale. At the time, the nearest schools were three miles away. Settler R. J. Cartwright solicited funds and a one-room frame school was built to house fourteen students and one teacher. By 1895, the student count had reached sixty-two, so a large tent was erected and another teacher was hired. In 1897, the old frame building was moved and a one-room brick school with a basement and a kitchen to feed students was built. Two rooms were added in 1904.

The Cartwright Elementary School District #83 was officially formed in 1921. In 1924, a new Cartwright School consisting of six classrooms, an office, auditorium and inside classrooms replaced the brick building. This building remains a part of Cartwright School today and functions as a museum on the Cartwright School campus. Cartwright School remained the only school for 32 years when tremendous growth in the community made it necessary to build additional schools. In 1924, a bond issue was held and the new, modern school was built. More land was acquired throughout the years and additional classrooms and a cafeteria were added. It wasn't until 1956 that our second school was built - Glenn L. Downs Elementary School.

The following list shows the growth of the Cartwright School District throughout the years:

1958 - John F. Long School

1959 - Powell School

1960 - Justine Spitalny School

1961 - Holiday Park and Sunset Schools

1962 - Starlight Park School

1963 - Charles W. Harris School

1968 - Desert Sands and Frank Borman Middle Schools (Now Desert Sands Middle School & Borman Elementary School)

1971 - Heatherbrae School

1973 - Estrella Middle School, Palm Lane School and CASP (later named Palm Lane North which closed during 2004-05 school year)

1975 - Peralta School

1979-80 - Byron A. Barry and Tomahawk Schools (Barry School closed in the 2009-10 school year)

1992 - Powell School reopened as the Cartwright Preschool & Gifted Center (later named the Cartwright Early Childhood Center) Closed in 2009-10

1997 - Flor del Sol (Closed in 2009-10)

1998 - G. Frank Davidson School

2000 - Marc T. Atkinson Middle School

2001 - Bret R. Tarver School

2003 - Manuel Lito Peña School

2008 - Raúl H. Castro Middle School

2016 - Byron A. Barry School reopens as a preschool & Early Childhood Education Center

2020 - Unveiled the Raúl H. Castro Academy of Fine Arts and the Marc T. Atkinson Gifted Academy IB Middle School

2020 - Flor Del Sol reopened as the Cartwright Staff Daycare Center

Before the start of the new millennium, John F. Long, Maryvale's founder and developer generously offered the District the opportunity to purchase the former Maryvale Mall space at 51st Avenue & Indian School for a portion of its value with the stipulation that it not be torn down. The District renovated the facility into Marc T. Atkinson Middle School and Bret R. Tarver Elementary School and become one of the first districts in the country to renovate retail space into schools, for which the District received national attention. Mr. Long had a long history of generosity to the Maryvale community and the Cartwright School District.

In November 2014, Cartwright's District office headquarters moved into the space adjacent to Marc T. Atkinson Middle School and Bret R. Tarver Elementary School, continuing the tradition of upholding our promise to Maryvale's proud founder, John F. Long.

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